TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May 07/11)
29 May 2007
The first meeting on NAMA (non agricultural market access) to discuss the tariff reduction formula, since the resumption of the Doiha negotiations, took place on 7 May at the WTO.
Positions of various countries and groupings remained polarised.
The NAMA 11 group of developing countries presented a major paper at this meeting.
The report below was published in SUNS on 10 May.
The next issue of TWN Info Service will give another report of that week of NAMA negotiations.
Developed countries' demands for industrial tariff cuts rejected
Goh Chien Yen (TWN),
Positions of various countries and groupings in the WTO remained polarised as negotiations took place on Monday 7 May for the first time in six months on the tariff reduction formula in non-agricultural market access (NAMA).
criticisms and sharp comments came at the open-ended informal plenary
meeting of the Negotiating Group on Non-Agricultural Market Access,
is the first plenary meeting of the NAMA group, since the suspension
and then resumption of the
According to trade officials, the exchanges at the meeting showed continued sharp differences between the developed countries and a large number of key developing countries - with no sign of flexibility on either side.
The NAMA 11 in particular assailed the attempts of the US, EC and other developed countries, as well as of Stephenson himself, in injecting into the mandate and work of the group the 'ambitions' and 'objectives' of a few developed countries in talking of "real market access", while ignoring the Doha mandate requirement for "less than full reciprocity" by developing countries and the focus for cutting barriers to exports of developing countries.
underlined that the Doha mandate had been reiterated and reinforced
by the 2004 July framework and the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration
-- and in none of these is any provision for 'real market access'. This
was a term being used by the
focus of Monday's discussions was on the "coefficients" to
be used in a "Swiss formula" to effect cuts in industrial
tariffs. At the meeting, practically all developed country members including
to the nature of the formula, this coefficient will result in very modest
reductions for many developed country members. The
On the other hand, the developed country members continue to press for sharp reductions in the industrial tariffs by the developing countries - by their adopting a coefficient value of 15.
this scenario, the developing countries such as
South Africa, speaking on behalf of NAMA-11, a group of developing countries, reiterated the need for "less than full reciprocity" when developing countries cut their industrial tariffs and make commitments.
The NAMA-11 made clear at the meeting, that a coefficient of 10 and 15 respectively for the developed and developing countries was simply not "doable". These coefficient numbers will lead to "an unfair and imbalanced outcome, and place the principle of less than full reciprocity [as mandated in the Doha Declaration] on its head, shifting the burden of the adjustments to be made in this round from the developed to the developing countries once again," South Africa pointed out.
The Chair of the negotiating group, Amb Don Stephenson of Canada, noted in his fax to members before the meeting, the need to reconcile in the negotiations, the "ambition of many members for real market access" and less than full reciprocity in the mandate.
Responding to this, the NAMA-11 pointed out that the notion of 'real market access' is inconsistent with the Doha mandate as it undermines the principle of less than full reciprocity and denies developing countries their legal right to make tariff cuts from their bound rates.
[Less than full reciprocity is usually taken to mean that the developing countries would undertake less tariff reduction commitments, in percentage terms, compared to developed countries.]
Furthermore, by insisting on real market access or new trade flows in NAMA and at the same time being lenient on themselves in the area of agriculture "developed countries will be injecting an even further bias into the mandate, and creating a disproportionate burden on developing countries", the NAMA-11 argued.
NAMA-11 pointed out that some developed country members such as "
the views of many delegations,
the basis of the principle of less than full reciprocity mandated for
the negotiations, "the reduction in bound tariffs for developing
countries should not be more than that of the developed countries,"
non-NAMA-11 developing countries such as
On the difference or "spread" between the coefficients for developed and developing countries, the NAMA 11 objected to the EU-US proposal of 10 for themselves and 15 for developing countries. The group pointed out this would mean an average percentage cut of 25% for developed countries and an average cut of 65-70% for developing countries.
It proposed a difference between the coefficients of at least 25 points to take into account the principle of less than full reciprocity.
developing countries also offered a range of differentials.
to the NAMA 11,
the view of the EC, this market access had to be achieved through cuts
into applied rates, and the
The NAMA meeting opened yesterday will last till end of the week, with the stated objective of the chair that it is for receiving guidance from Members on the preparation of a revised negotiating text. He told members that they would have twelve weeks to agree to full modalities.
However, no negotiating text on NAMA would be tabled "before the same is done in agriculture", he explained. He also informed members that he would not be putting forward his thoughts on where things stand in a paper, as was done by his counterpart in the agriculture negotiations.
The Chair informed members that there will be two more negotiating weeks in June, with a view to issuing a modalities text by the middle of next month. According to a trade diplomat, he also told delegates that the scheduled meeting on 4th June will be the last opportunity for members to provide inputs into his text.